Steven Gerrard: '˜Neil loves winning... he wants his team to be aggressive and that is how he was as a player'

They are now neighbours in Glasgow's leafy west end but Steven Gerrard expects his managerial battles with Neil Lennon to be every bit as hostile as the clashes they had on the pitch.

For the first time since becoming Rangers manager, Gerrard will face Lennon across the technical areas when the Premiership leaders face Hibs at Easter Road tonight.

The pair are already well acquainted, a relationship dating back to Gerrard’s early days in the Liverpool first team when he first crossed swords with Lennon in matches against Leicester City. Gerrard later had to concede second best to Lennon when Celtic knocked Liverpool out of the Uefa Cup on their way to the 2003 final in Seville.

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“We used to go toe to toe on the pitch, be at each other’s throats and kick lumps out of each other,” recalled Gerrard. “That’s because we were both winners and were both tenacious players. Now we 
are standing on the side of the 
pitch, we are probably not much different.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is looking forward to going toe to toe with Neil Lennon tonight

“I know Neil well. I’ve also bumped into him a lot of times at different holiday destinations down the years. We are actually neighbours now in the same area of Glasgow, so we often bump into each other. Hopefully I’m the noisy neighbour on Wednesday night!

“I remember the Uefa Cup tie back in 2003, Celtic were very good and got the better of us on that occasion. They had a very strong team at the time and Neil was a key part of it.

“I competed against him a lot of times when he was at Leicester as well. He was a good footballer, was always right up for it, was a winner, and I think he has taken that into his coaching and management style. He wants his team to be really aggressive and play on the front foot and that is how he was as a player as well.

“Neil loves winning and he certainly gets an extra buzz out of getting results against Rangers, as we all know. Look, it is going to be feisty game. Hibs are going to be right up for it, their manager is going to be up for it, but so are we and so am I.

“I hope my players are, because it’s an exciting fixture and one they should be really looking forward to. There will be a great atmosphere there. It is a good place to go and play. It is a terrific challenge for us right now. I am sure Hibs are going to be the ones who want to knock us off the top. We have to be ready for that.

“It’s not about Neil Lennon, it’s not about me, it’s about which team turns out with the best game plan that is successful on the day.”

Having returned to the top of the table on Sunday, Gerrard hopes Rangers can consolidate their position before the winter break. After tonight’s game at Easter Road, they face St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday before a return fixture with Hibs at Ibrox on Boxing Day and then the Old Firm clash with Celtic at Ibrox on 29 December.

“From now until the winter break we want to try and be as consistent as we can and really stay in the mix,” added Gerrard.

“Come the end of that Celtic game, we really want to be in the mix and go away, have a rest, find some oxygen and get ready for the second part of the season.

“I’d be very satisfied if we are up there going into the break. I said during the European run I ‘d be happy to be in the mix.

“The European run has come to an end and the fixture schedule gets lighter after the break, we get more training days for the domestic games. There’s a transfer window where we can dip in and get a little help.

“We have to be humble and respect the fact there’s not much in it in the league right now, with only four points separating the top five teams. We won’t get carried away. We’re happy to be there and we want to stay there but there’s too much football left to play. There will be a lot of twists and turns between now and the end of the season. It would be naive to get carried away.”